HEALTH SPENDING: OTHER COUNTRIES GET BETTER RESULTS FOR LESS

OTTAWA, May 12 /CNW/ - Canada's health spending per capita is the fourth-highest of 17 countries assessed in The Conference Board of Canada's How Canada Performs: Health Spending (http://www.conferenceboard.ca/hcp/hot-topics/healthSpending.aspx) rankings. But Canada ranks just 10th in overall health performance. Several countries spend less than Canada yet have healthier populations overall.

"The adage that you get what you pay for applies in general to health-care spending, but there are some major exceptions among the world's most developed countries," said David Stewart-Patterson, The Conference Board of Canada's new Vice-President, Public Policy. "Canada has relatively high overall spending and middle-of-the-pack health outcomes. Countries such as Australia and Sweden spend less than Canada per person, and generally get better results."

"Many factors affect the health of a population - and how the money is being spent is just as important as how much is being spent."

In 2008, 10 per cent of Canada's gross domestic product (GDP) went to health spending - the equivalent of US$4,079 per person. On key indicators of population health, however, Canada falls in the middle of the pack at best. For example, it ranks seventh on life expectancy, and fares much worse on infant mortality, with the second highest infant mortality rate among its peers. Despite similar levels of income per capita, Canada's life expectancy is lower than that of Australia, while the infant mortality rate is higher in Canada.

While Canada is an outlier in terms of the relationship between per-capita expenditures and population health, it is not one of the most extreme cases--these occur at the opposite ends of the health spending spectrum.

Japan, the country with the lowest health expenditures (US$2,729), has excellent health outcomes - the Japanese have both the highest life expectancy and the second-lowest infant mortality rate among the peer countries assessed.

The United States is by far the biggest health spender, at over US$7,500 per person in 2008. However, the U.S. has the worse results by far of any peer country, ranking last overall on population health. The U.S. records the lowest life expectancy and ranks last on another key health indicator, infant mortality.

The Conference Board of Canada will be assessing the sustainability of health care through the Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC). The purpose of this multi-year initiative is to provide Canadian business leaders and policy makers with insightful, forward-looking, quantitative analysis of the sustainability of the Canadian health-care system and all of its facets. CASHC will be launched on Friday, May 13 in Toronto.

How Canada Performs is a multi-year research program at The Conference Board of Canada to help leaders identify relative strengths and weaknesses in Canada's socio-economic performance. The How Canada Performs website presents data and analysis on Canada's performance compared to 16 peer countries in six performance categories: Economy, Innovation, Environment, Education and Skills, Health, and Society. This year, the Conference Board is assessing Canada's performance on 10 Hot Topics.

As Vice-President, Public Policy, Stewart-Patterson will be responsible for research and networks in the areas of innovation, national security and public safety, health, energy, environment and transportation policy. He comes to the Conference Board after 15 years with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), where, for the past seven years, he held the post of Executive Vice-President.

SOURCE CONFERENCE BOARD OF CANADA

For further information:

Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 448
E-mail: corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca

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